Congressional fundraising race strong for an off year, political analyst says

(Cobb photo by Watertown Daily Times, Stefanik photo by Post-Star)

PLATTSBURGH — Incumbent North Country Congresswoman Elise Stefanik is maintaining a significant campaign finance lead over her challenger in the race for New York’s 21st Congressional District.

Second-quarter fundraising results for 2019 show Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, raised $518,000 in the quarter, and had a total of $1,015,000 cash on hand.

By comparison, Democrat Tedra Cobb of St. Lawrence County, raised $356,595.22, and had a total of $377,955.34 cash on hand.

All counties

Stefanik defeated Cobb in last year’s race for the seat.

Cobb is the only Democrat to come out as a challenger for the 2020 race so far.

Stefanik’s campaign says her second-quarter finance showing featured donations from all 12 counties in the district, and is the strongest off-year collection in district history.

“I’m grateful for such overwhelming support for our campaign to continue delivering real results for families and small businesses across the District,” Stefanik said. “This record level of support reflects my independent record of always putting the North Country first, and of reaching across the aisle to deliver real results for our district. I look forward to continuing to build our tremendous grassroots network of volunteers and supporters, and to winning in 2020.”

GOP women

In addition to her own campaign fundraising, E-PAC, Stefanik’s organization aiming to elect more Republican women to office, has raised nearly $400,000 since its relaunch in January.

E-PAC has already donated the maximum primary election contribution to 20 women running for office nationwide, the campaign said.

“E-PAC has shattered its fundraising goals so far, and I am proud to already be able to contribute to so many female Republican candidates for office in the off year,” Stefanik said. “The stakes for our mission have never been higher and E-PAC is doing the necessary work to make a significant difference.”

Proud of support

Cobb’s second quarter numbers included 2,088 individual contributions, of which 82% were $100 or less.

Nearly 90 percent of contributions came from New York state, and nearly 75 percent came from inside New York’s 21st District.

None were from corporate political action committees, lobbyists, or insurance of pharmaceutical companies.

“I am proud of the support we have received,” Cobb said.

“The momentum we are building proves that voters are sick of business as usual in Washington. I have spent 30 years fighting for Northern New York families, whether it was to expand access to health care, lower the cost of prescription drugs, or as a volunteer firefighter.

“Congresswoman Stefanik has spent her career in (Washington) D.C. supporting policies that help the large corporations that fund her campaigns at the expense of the very families I’ve spent my life fighting to protect.”

More work to do

One analyst says the fundraising numbers are impressive for an off year, but both candidates have a way to go.

SUNY Plattsburgh political science professor Harvey Schantz noted that in 2017-18, Stefanik spent just under $3 million, and Cobb spent almost exactly $1.5 million.

“While both candidates are off to a good start in replenishing their war chests, both have more work to do in order to achieve last cycle’s numbers,” Schantz said.

At the end of the last election cycle, Cobb had about $39,000 cash on hand, so she has done a good job of replenishing her war chest with $378,000 cash on hand, Schantz said.

“Cobb will benefit if she does not have to deplete her resources in a contested primary against other Democrats,” he said.

Stefanik ended the last cycle with more than $352,000 cash on hand, so she also has done well to go over $1 million cash on hand, Schantz said. But she would have more work to do to reach the almost $3 million she spent in 2017-18.